Ngee Ann Poly student dies after cheerleading accident

Qing Xiang fell while doing a backflip during training. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK
Qing Xiang fell while doing a backflip during training. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK

A student who spent two weeks in a coma after injuring his head while doing a backflip during cheerleading training died in the early hours of yesterday.

Lai Qing Xiang, 19, a member of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's cheerleading team Magnum Force, fell unconscious shortly after the Aug 30 accident and was sent to the National University Hospital. He never regained consciousness.

His father Patrick Lai, 57, said he had asked the team coach why his son was asked to do a backflip, when he was meant to be a "tosser", whose role is to throw other cheerleaders into the air and catch them.

"He was big. He stood 1.75m tall and weighed 90kg. Why was he asked to do a backward flip?" said the businessman. "Was my son properly taught and trained how to execute a backflip?"

Mr Lai, a businessman, was told that the backflip was a "routine" cheerleading manoeuvre.

A cheerleader present at the training session said Qing Xiang was being guided through the move by two others. He had done one backflip and was attempting another, said the member, who refused to be named.

A polytechnic spokesman said the team had been practising on safety mats and were supervised.

It has suspended all practice sessions for the cheerleading club until further notice and police are looking into the matter.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call at 6.54pm on Aug 30. Paramedics found Qing Xiang had suffered a cardiac arrest, and an officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him before a doctor took over at the hospital.

Mr Lai said doctors got his son's heart going and his condition seemed to improve before deteriorating on Wednesday night. He died shortly after midnight.

Relatives said Qing Xiang was a late bloomer who was in the Normal Technical stream in secondary school. He went on to the Institute of Technical Education, and did well enough to enter Ngee Ann to study chemical and biomolecular engineering.

His housewife mother Winnie Lai-Ho, 58, said her youngest child was a cheerful boy who enjoyed cooking. Qing Xiang leaves behind a sister and a brother. His wake will be held at Mount Vernon Sanctuary until tomorrow.